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Ruth Warner Kilby Gruninger

Date of Death: October 24, 2020

Date of Birth: May 11, 1924


Ruth Warner Kilby Gruninger passed away on Saturday, October 24 after succumbing to COPD.  During her 96 years she lived primarily in Freeport and South Freeport, with summers spent on her beloved Sebago Lake where she frequently entertained her friends at “Camp” and “Ruth’s Beach”.  At the time of her husband Norman Kilby, Jr.’s passing in 1967, she was in the first years of a 38-year teaching career in Freeport Public Schools. She was well known as one of the innovative leaders of education as she and her colleagues initiated and instituted the Soule School Program in the early 1970’s.  At the time of her retirement, she was the eldest, active teacher-member of the Maine Education Association.  Ruth’s life intertwined with decades of students who she fondly referred to as “my kids”.  

Her family established residency in Freeport’s Porter’s Landing near its time of settlement.  She loved riding her pony over her family’s lands—now protected in part by a conservation easement. Ruth was well-known for sharing stories of her ancestors, as well as of her experiences growing up during the Depression. She also delighted in tales of her teenaged years amidst New York society and her family’s international travels.  Ruth attended the one-room schoolhouse at Porter’s Landing, Bayside High School (NY), North Yarmouth Academy, Colby College, and received her master’s degree from the University of Maine.

Ruth enjoyed her time at the Freeport Historical Society, with her close friends in South Freeport Village, and with her family. She is survived by her daughter Dr. Dianna Kilby Emory and husband Ben, daughter Lois Kilby-Chesley, granddaughters Melissa Savage (Deborah) and Bethany Savage (Kevin), grandsons Dr. Ian Chesley (Susan) and Mattias Chesley (Melissa), step-grandchildren Kristin Emory (Jamie), Thor Emory, and Chafee Emory, and  many great-grandchildren.

Donations are encouraged in her memory to the Freeport Public Library (Children’s section) where she enjoyed many years as a volunteer reader with preschoolers.  No services will be held at the present time due to the coronavirus pandemic. Arrangements are under the care of Funeral Alternatives, 46 Bath Rd. Brunswick, ME condolences may be shared at

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